fully be in that position this year,” Harper was saying the other night, after slugging two home runs in a critical victory in Washington. “That would solidify us in many different ways, of getting there and getting there often, not just one year but in multiple years.
“Hopefully, it would help in getting free agents in here because they know we are a postseason team that they can come to and help us win.”
And there it was, tucked neatly into the end of a video interview, late at night, late in a season: Harper’s challenge to his teammates and, more, to the front office.
Though he didn’t say it, he didn’t commit to the Phillies because he expected Brandon Workman to be the closer. He didn’t buy into John Middleton’s sales pitch because he expected the Phillies to trade for
J.T. Realmuto only as a twoyear rent-a-star on an expiring contract. He didn’t expect to play in an empty stadium, which this particular year was nobody’s fault, but which can become a trend should the Phillies finish under .500.
This is the moment that Harper envisioned, a weekend series with a playoff spot on the line, and a shot to do something in the postseason … and beyond.
“I think we’re a postseason organization,” Harper said. “You saw it for a long period
of time, then didn’t see it for a long period of time.”
That’s how Middleton sold the Phillies to Harper, that he was in a mood to spend what it took to win another nifty trophy, to restore his team to what it was from 2007 through 2011, to be an attractive, serious, championshipobsessed destination for baseball’s brightest stars.
David Phelps would not be in that sub-set.
“So we need to get back there,” Harper said. “The ability to sign free agents because
we get there is why I came here.”
He couldn’t have been more clear about his mood had he taken batting practice in a Realmuto jersey. And, by the way, he did that, too. But he has been professional enough only to troll, not blame, the front office. He has understood that it is up to the players on staff to stampede through Tampa and earn a playoff spot, himself included. That’s why he has been playing despite an achy back, taking every extra base, hitting home runs to all fields and spreading expectations around the clubhouse.
“I came here to win,” he said. “I came here to be successful as an organization. I came here to get the Philadelphia Phillies back on Broad Street and to do the things we need to do to be successful for a long period of time. That’s what I want to do. That’s what the players in that clubhouse want to do. But you’ve got to want it. You have to come in here every single day and want to win and want to battle, no matter how you feel.”